$750,000 in funding grants for Council computer initiatives - 22/07/2009
Wanganui District Council will receive around $750,000 in funding over the next two years to support two innovative computer access projects. The council has been successful in securing funding for two projects from the Department of Internal Affairs Community Partnership Fund.
The first project to be funded is a continuation of the successful Computers in Homes programme, which helps local schools provide computers, internet access and computer training to families with school-aged children who have no access to a computer or internet within the home.
Alistair Fraser, co-ordinator of the Wanganui Computers in Homes programme says that since 2006, “158 families have benefited. We have been working with our partner schools and found that the project has made a real difference to people’s lives.”
“The opportunities provided by having a computer at home are enormous. It has had a number of benefits including raising the skill level of education, increasing self confidence and enhanced family relationships, stronger home/school relationships. It has also helped parents and older family members obtain employment and take up educational courses.”
Chair of the Computers in Homes Steering Group Cr Sue Westwood is pleased the project will continue. “We are delighted that that the funding will enable the continuation of the programme and that a further 150 families will have the opportunity to participate in computer education which has demonstrably enhanced family and work skills.”
Council has also received funding to establish a Computer Clubhouse which will give free access to computer hardware and software to young people in Wanganui, many of whom are from under-served communities.
The Clubhouse will be situated within Youth Services Trust and supported by a Clubhouse Co-ordinator and mentors from UCOL. The Clubhouse will create an informal learning environment, where the emphasis is on young people using their own interests and ideas to direct their projects and develop the skills they need along the way. Training provided is nationally and internationally recognised and it is aimed to address the “digital gaps” in Wanganui for many young people.
Cr Danny Jonas, Chair of the Youth Committee is looking forward to seeing the benefits that the Computer Clubhouse will offer to Wanganui’s youth. “A project like this enables our young people to access computer facilities and spend time in a productive learning environment – but one which is designed specifically for them. We are hoping to see users of the Computer Clubhouse go on to use their newly acquired skills to benefit them both personally for living in a computer focussed society, as well as enabling them to access further opportunities for study or work.”
Wanganui is the first New Zealand city to run both the Computers in Homes and Computer Clubhouse projects simultaneously, highlighting Councils commitment to developing projects to support its family-friendly vision, of which connectivity, economic development and educational opportunities are served by these projects. In addition, Wanganui District Library is part of the Aotearoa Peoples Network which provides free internet access offering further integrated opportunities for the community to access digital services.